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Grey stone huts against the scarred hillsides - 89%

joncheetham88, February 11th, 2013

It is nice to know that ol' Blighty does indeed have some genuine black metal talent; even operating as they are in the more early Enslaved or Drudkh-like sphere of somewhat foresty, epic, pagan black metal, Wodensthrone are at heart a ferocious, talented bunch of black metal kvnts. No wonder since they count members of disturbed sickos The Axis of Perdition and the crushing death metal entity Cruciamentum among their number. Their debut Loss had the weight, obvious technical ability and superb songwriting to set them apart, though it didn't quite elate my balls like this baby. This is the next fucken' level. No wandering, half-arsed post-black strumming here, no watery guitars or shite vocals... not that there was on the debut, these guys are legit, but this sophomore Curse far outstrips the previous offering.

It's all epic 8-12 minute or so black metal wrath, with blasting aplenty and tons of atmosphere only lightly flecked with synths, clean guitars and some ambient sounds. The band themselves are on top form. The drumming of Hréowsian has improved much, and as one of the members whose work in other bands I'm not familiar with, he's doing a lot to impress me and no doubt everyone else with a relentless level of fury and precision in his hammering blasts. Much of the immediate impact of Wodensthrone owes to his superior drumming. He also unleashes plenty of different patterns this time around, perhaps having come into the confidence to bust out some sweet rolls and change up into a scorching d-beat at times. All I will say further is I've got to catch this fella doing this live. The vocals meanwhile are a cacophony, slavering howls and throaty bellowing quite different to the bird-like squeaks or mumbled rasps some idiots might consider par for the course with atmospheric black stuff.

And the lyrics are awesome:

"Like worms they prostate themselves before the great eye
and crawl on their bellies through shards of god.
Emerging in radiant gloom, a cruel mockery of luminescence,
Like the twisted afterglow of a star bound in chains."

There's enough to the cavorting tremolo lines and occasional spikes of shredding to hold the record up alone; as 'Battle Lines' gets going about a minute in with some sinister picking, things feel more grotesque death metal or cavernous black metal barbarism than foresty pagan tits of the druidess type stuff. I shouldn't be surprised if Wildeþrýð has written this under the influence of time spent axe-slinging with Cruciamentum. 'Wyrgthu' erupts halfway in the kind of violent black metal assault expected from Endstille. Seriously, it gets really nasty. Across the board the black metal riffs being written are just top totty. But where the boys feel the need to splice in some more "epic" or "atmospheric" material, it is both unexploited and appropriate. 'The Great Darkness', for example, plays out with some pretty emotional, pining guitarwork, but that feels nothing less than perfectly fit with the mostly blasting entirety of the cut. Same with the sublime melodies of closing song 'The Name of the Wind'.

Amazingly (for the sub-(sub-)genre) and to the band's credit, I'm never left getting exhausted by one riff or lead in particular. High praise but that's what this fucker deserves. At a time of my life when I'm hellishly absorbed by death metal and black metal of the most unpleasant varieties available, I haven't been able to stop going back to this transcendental and epic record. Awesome for me, since I've always been a big fan of all things runic (at one point in school half my notes were written in a form of Futhark... I was one of the cool kids you understand), that there's finally a really decent full-on black metal horde doing the pagan thing right. Drudkh's decent, but these guys are better.